2019 Texas Rangers Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat
To see the Rangers Top 10 prospects, click here.
Ben Badler: Hey everyone. Just got back from watching three different showcases for Venezuelan players last week and I've got a few days here before heading back on the road for more games next week. So let's talk some Rangers prospects.
Mike (Dallas, TX):
- What is Ragans' approximate ETA for returning to action?
Ben Badler: Aiming for some point in June, probably similar to what they did with Joe Palumbo this past season.
- I saw Demarcus Evans in the AFL. He looked great at times. Was he close to the top 10?
Ben Badler: Being a reliever took him out of that mix, but for a relief prospect, I'm a big fan. Throws 92-96 with tremendous spin, so from the hitter's perspective the ball just seems to disappear, which is a big part of why he misses so many bats.
Patrick (Plano, TX):
- Bubba Thompson at #9 is a little surprising to me. He seems to be the darling of this group among most local writers. Is that just because of the wide range of outcomes or the guys above him have lower floors with a similar likely outcome?
Ben Badler: I haven't read what they’re saying, although if they’re speaking with people inside the Rangers org, that makes sense, because there are people within the org who would have Thompson higher. But he’s also a 20-year-old who struck out 29 percent of the time in Low-A with a free-swinging approach. Exciting athleticism, but there’s still a lot of rawness and risk to his profile. The pitchers above him in the 6-8 spots all have track records at higher levels, and while Tejeda has a similar risk/reward profile, he's the same age as Thompson, already performed at a higher level and with better defense at a premium position.
- Has Leody Taveras had more chances than most prospects, because of his age and defense? Seems most prospects with his offensive track record would have fallen out of top 100s and down on the prospect depth chart. Yet Taveras is always ranked highly.
Ben Badler: He's a tricky one to rank because of how fast he's been pushed. You can find scouts who have soured on him quite a bit and don't think he will ever hit with enough impact, and others who are still believers in him because he's a plus defender at a premium position with good contact frequency who spent the whole season as a 19-year-old in the Carolina League. 2019 is going to be a huge year for his prospect status.
Frank (Indianapolis, IN):
- How many of these guys are worthy of making the BA 100?
Ben Badler: Building off that last question on Leody Taveras, I think two will make it, with a chance for maybe another one. Leody will be in the mix, but he's not a lock by any means as he's become more of a split camp guy than he was coming into 2018.
- Who are some of the less heralded guys outside the top ten that we should watch for a breakout in 2019?
Ben Badler: Jonathan Ornelas and Owen White are two draft picks from their 2018 class, plus Osleivis Basabe, Randy Florentino, Heriberto Hernandez are all breakout candidates at the lowest levels.
J.P. (Springfield, IL):
- Thanks for chatting, Ben. How close was Ornelas to your top 10, and is SS feasible for him, or is he a 3B going forward?
Ben Badler: He was close. I don't want to push him off shortstop yet—professional coaching and the amount of time players have to focus on their defense can make a big impact—but I'd say it's more than likely he ends up at either third or second base. The main tool with him is the bat. Even though it's not a classic type of swing, but he keeps his hands back well and barrels up fastballs really well.
- Does Matuella have a shot at cracking the 40 or even 25 man later this season?
Ben Badler: I don't have much optimism on that one. Anything they could get out of him would be a bonus.
- What are your thoughts on C.D. Pelham? How close was he to making the top 10?
Ben Badler: He was close, but ended up giving the edge to players with a chance to be either starting pitchers or everyday regulars. But he's definitely a high-end relief prospect. Upper-90s from the left side, slider needs to get a little better and the same with his command, but it's a potential high-leverage relief arm who can help in 2019.
Warren (New London):
- Diosbel Arias and Curtis Terry both had big years in the Northwest League, but are older than the position players in the top 10. Do you see either as a real prospect?
Ben Badler: Both got a lot of 4A/org type reports from scouts who saw them in Spokane. More value with Arias, who's stretched too thin at shortstop but does have more positional value if he can hang at third base or second. He's going to have to show more power, but there were some promising early signs of barrel control and strike-zone judgment this year.
Anderson Tejeda (Kinston):
- How concerned are you that my contact issues will keep me from being able to hit as I move up the ladder?
Ben Badler: I do think it's a big risk in Tejeda's profile. It's the main reason he's still below Taveras right now, although I know a lot of scouts who would have them flipped the other way. The good thing with Tejeda is that he has big power for a shortstop and he made massive improvements on the defensive side to show that he can stay at the position. He's never going to be a high contact hitter, so he's going to have to develop a better hitting plan to make more selective swing decisions and hunt pitches in his hot zones.
Stickman Stu (The Sticks):
- A.J. Alexy had a strong second half for Hickory, and Tyler Phillips had a breakout year in Hickory as well. Are these two legitimate starting pitching prospects, or just guys dominating A ball hitters who will be exposed at the upper levels?
Ben Badler: It might be both, but they're definitely legitimate prospects. Alexy has a good fastball, gets swing-and-miss up in the zone with it, and a true out pitch in his breaking ball when it's on. It wasn't always sharp during the season, but he tweaked his grip around a little bit and that seemed to help. He just has to repeat his mechanics better so he can throw more strikes. Phillips is the opposite of that—extreme strike-thrower, fastball and the plus changeup play really well off each other. The strike-thrower with an advanced changeup is a profile that tends to play really well against A-ball hitters and gets exposed more at higher levels, so that's part of the risk with him unless he can develop a better breaking pitch.
- Will any of Ranger lowete level impact pitchers be ready early 2020 at the new stadium? If so who do you like?
Ben Badler: Probably not the lower level guys, but Jonathan Hernandez, Taylor Hearn and Joe Palumbo should all be ready by then. Crouse, Winn, Englert, White, Ragans probably will need a little more time.
Ryan A. (Madison, WI):
- Ben, RHP Kyle Cody missed 2018 rehabbing from TJ. Obviously was one of the systems top young prospects before the injury. Does he have a chance to leapfrog back up once healthy?
Ben Badler: Probably the most disappointing injury in the system, given what he did in 2017, his age and what it does now to his timetable. He's not going to start throwing for a few more months, and if everything goes right, he might be able to pitch at instructs after the 2019 season. So we're talking about essentially missing two full seasons, then coming back on an innings limit in 2020 during his age-25 season. I do think he can come back and be able to contribute in a major league role if the stuff he showed in 2017 returns after the rehab, it's just a tough setback and it's going to be a while to see him back in game action.
- Englert over White is interesting -- what about Englert's profile (since neither has pitched professionally yet, outside of a few FIL innings) led to that eval?
Ben Badler: Great question. Going into the draft, we had White over Englert. That's the order I expected to line them up for our Rangers list. But Englert's a really interesting guy, because going into the draft, if you were buying in on Englert, you were buying into the projection indicators. Over the past year, those arrows were pointing the right direction, and since signing, the fastball has continued to tick up and the breaking stuff looked sharp at instructional league, where I know he caught the attention of evaluators who saw him there. Granted, it's a brief look—he probably threw single-digit innings at instructs—but the signs of a player trending up are all there. Now, I think you can still make a compelling case for White ahead of Englert, but from all the conversations I had with people who saw him at instructs, with our draft experts who had all the information about him and White as amateurs, in putting together the bigger picture, that's why we gave Englert a slight edge over White going into the 2019 season.
Terry Richards (Seattle Washington):
- Do you see Demarcus Evans being a Top 30 Prospect ?
Ben Badler: Absolutely. Think he's a sneaky candidate to help the big league club by the end of the year too.
Warren (New London):
- I'm a little surprised to see Leody Taveras this high after he fell all the way out of the Carolina League top 20, although I can see that they're both reasonable points of view. Bubba Thompson is surely moving up, so if Taveras stays in the Carolina League as you suggest, who plays center field?
Ben Badler: Great question, and they also have Julio Pablo Martinez in that mix as well. I don't think the Rangers know yet, and they do have a new farm director (former BA writer Matt Blood) coming in, so he will help shape that decision. The tricky thing is with Leody, I think he has to repeat the Carolina League, and with Thompson, I want him somewhere he can play center field every day because he has the tools to play there but needs work on his reads and routes. The Rangers do also have a history of having some of their better prospects (Lewis Brinson, Ronald Guzman) repeat Hickory, so that might be a possibility with Thompson, with Leody repeating High-A and Julio Pablo to Double-A. But my sense is the Rangers would probably put all three of them at the A-ball level, so there's probably going to be two of them splitting CF time at one of those affiliates.
- Thoughts on Chris Seise? Assume the injury was primarily why he fell off your list, but had it not been for the year on the shelf, where would he figure in for you?
Ben Badler: Right shoulder surgery, missed the 2018 season, but was back hitting at instructional league. Should be ready to go in spring training. Really nothing new from a baseball perspective to add on him, but the injury and missed season did drop him.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- His wiffs are up, his batting average down, but his home run output really climbed. Thinking he must be fooling with his launch angle... So is the power improvement enough to get Joseph Starling to the top 30 in the Handbook?
Ben Badler: He won't be there. Strong dude who can hammer a fastball if it's thrown into his swing path, but his plan is basically to swing and hope it's not a breaking ball.
- Thanks for chatting. Yanio Perez has been quite the disappointment. Would it be fair to say he’s a non prospect at this point?
Ben Badler: That's certainly how it's trending with him, and I know pro scouts with other clubs who NP-ed him.
Ben Badler: Thanks everyone. Great questions as usual, always enjoy the chats. Happy Thanksgiving!!